Fighting…and WINNING…the Common Core Implementation Game

In last week’s article, I walked you through where we’re getting teachers started with Step 1 of Implementing the Common Core Standards – we started with a big picture plan for the year – one domain at a time!

We received a slew of responses to that blog straight to my inbox – – and here was the gist of most of them: “But Jill, I like what you wrote, but we have SO MANY STANDARDS to implement – – how can you guide us to just start with one domain?”

Well guys, I have news for you.  Just because you HAVE to implement all of the standards, doesn’t mean that by biting off a HUGE chunk right away, you’ll have success with it.

In fact, our schools and teachers tend to have the best success with the “go slow to go fast” mentality.  Here’s what that sounds like. “Hmmm….I’m totally overwhelmed with all of the things I need to be doing right now with the Common Core, but I know that if I’m trying to manage too many brand new pieces and parts each day/week/month, I’m going to burn out super quickly and I can’t afford to do that.  So, I’m going to push aside my Common Core-frenzied thoughts and I’m going to focus on getting really good at a couple of standards.  This way, I’ll not only be great at implementing these particular standards, I’ll also build my confidence to bite off the next chunk that I need to.  Slow and steady and well-done wins the race with a massive implementation like the Common Core.”

If you have to re-read and repeat that conversation to yourself 10,000xs a day, do it.

You won’t get farther by going faster when so much is new.  You’ll only be racing toward overwhelm.  Fight it.

So, onto our task at hand…planning lessons to align your current curriculum to the Common Core.

Here’s where I’d like you to start: Create a very simple 4 question assessment.

This will make it easier to organize the lessons that you need to.  Starting with the end in mind means we end up where we want to because we’re NOT taking a shot in the dark!

Here’s where you’ll start:

  1. The assessment should incorporate the language/academic vocabulary from the Standards – this is critical.  For example if the standard that you’re assessing uses the term “describe in detail”, then your assessment should do the same.  (This is important because we will write this into our lessons, which is our next step)
  2. The assessment should incorporate written response and extended response questions – remember the Standards are focused on depth, not just breadth, and you want your assessment to represent this.  Design open-ended questions where students have to explain and give specific connection back to the text along with their ideas.  How you craft the question is critical in getting the right responses/information from your kids.
  3. The assessment should incorporate some sort of discussion and perhaps a rubric that you develop and use to gauge that discussion this is a new concept for some – we need to get familiar with it!
  4. The assessment should take 15 minutes or less – we need a good measure of what our kids know – BUT we shouldn’t have to put ourselves into assessment purgatory to do so!

Warning: DON’T DO THIS ON YOUR OWN!  Make it part of the work that you do weekly as you meet with your team!  It’s these common assessments that will drive the success in your grade level/department!